Former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca wasn\’t a big fan of having quarterback Ben Roethlisberger start early on during his rookie season, and he wasn\’t shy about telling the media that he wasn\’t excited about doing it prior to the team playing the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 of that year.
“Exciting?” Faneca said. “No, it\’s not exciting. Do you want to go work with some little young kid who\’s just out of college?”
Roethlisberger of course led the Steelers to a win in not only that game, but a 15-1 record as well. Faneca was reminded of those comments on Thursday when he was interviewed on 93.7 The Fan and the retired lineman let it be known that Roethlisberger is indeed one of the top quarterbacks currently in the league.
“I don\’t know if he\’s proving people wrong anymore, but I think people keep doubting maybe some of his quarterback abilities, and he finds other ways to overcome some of the things he\’s not good at, and he does great at them,” said Faneca. “He\’s always up there in the top echelon of quarterbacks, but nobody ever seems to talk about him much.
“He\’s not always pretty, but he does more than his fair share of getting the job done than most quarterbacks do in the NFL. In that department, he\’s probably due a lot of fanfare from outside the national media and the like of everybody.”
Faneca was then asked to give his thoughts on what makes Roethlisberger so great, and he pointed to his ability to extend plays, and the fact that he is so hard to bring down as a few of his reasons.
“I think Ben\’s elusiveness,” said Faneca. “He\’s not fast; he\’s not Kordell [Stewart], but he is elusive and he\’s hard to bring down. He knows that, and he uses it. The time that he\’s able to use, he\’s got a great clock in his head. He knows how much time he can gain and get out of stretching a play out, and those seconds that he gets add up over a game.
“He\’s getting minutes more with the ball in his hand than most quarterbacks are getting in a time span of a game, and those minutes add up to being that much more difficult for DBs to cover guys, and guys are able to get open. That\’s when you see those big plays.”
With Faneca being a nine-time Pro Bowler, he certainly knows a few things about playing on the offensive line, and he was asked how long we should expect the Steelers 2013 starting offensive line to begin gelling together now that starters Max Starks and Willie Colon are no longer in Pittsburgh.
“It\’s different and it depends on the guys in the room and the way that they mesh,” said Faneca. “So I don\’t think you can put a timetable that\’s given for every situation. Sometimes it could be a span of a couple of practices. You go through training camp and all of sudden you have a couple of practices where a couple of different guys figure out some things and all of a sudden the front five, you just start looking and gelling a lot better than you did a couple of days before.
“It can happen quickly. It doesn\’t have to happen that quick, because that builds up over time to get to that point, but it will happen, and they\’ll put the work in; I\’m sure, because those guys, they\’ve got the talent.”
Faneca was the leader of the Steelers offensive line for several seasons while in Pittsburgh, and he was asked if he thought that one player needs to take charge on the 2013 unit.
“I don’t think someone has to take charge,” he said. “I think everybody has to take ownership and responsibility and working with the other guy. It’s five guys up there doing one thing is what I\’ve always said. So you can’t just have one guy in charge of the whole situation because everybody has to make faster than split-second decisions all the time. So everybody’s got to take ownership and be ready and be prepared.”
In light of the situation that the New England Patriots just went through with former tight end Aaron Hernandez, Faneca was asked about the \’Steeler Way\’ of doing things.
“It is different and it\’s hard to describe,” said Faneca. “I got asked that question when I got to New York and by guys in Arizona as well – guys I was playing with. It\’s hard to put a finger on it until you leave, and the biggest thing that I thought was that the Rooney\’s do a great job of bringing in guys that are all the same
“Guys come from all parts of life and areas of the country. I don\’t know how they do it, but everybody\’s got the same mindset of the same person, and it\’s hard to put your finger on it, but that translates over to hard work and what you see on the field. The hard work that guys put in the offseason, it all translates.”
Faneca is back in Pittsburgh for the week as he has been named the honorary chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and Western Pennsylvania\’s 25th Family Fun Run and Walk, which will be held Saturday. As many of you already know, Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 15, and he played his entire career with the condition thanks to doctors being able to control his seizures with medication.